North Adams Marks Veterans Day
|Petty Officer 3rd Class Sherman Baldwin III speaks at the North Adams ceremony.View Slide Show|
An Army sergeant, he was only 21 when he was killed in combat in 1968, saving a comrade. Four decades after his death, Mayor John Barrett III wants his name on what is perhaps city's largest memorial — the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink.
"Some 40 years this city lost Peter W. Foote, from my generation," said the mayor at the Veterans Day ceremonies on Tuesday. "He was one of the finest athletes who ever came out of this city and he was lost saving a fellow soldier in the field and rice paddies of Vietnam."
Barrett said he would ask the City Council in the coming weeks to petition the Legislature to rename the rink for Foote.
Still, he said, Veterans Day cannot be just about honoring the dead but remembering the living as well.
"We also have to make sure as many of us have learned over the past few years, that we make sure our veterans that are coming home are taken care of," he said. While it is a national obligation, it is also the responsibility of this "small community tucked away in the far corner of Massachusetts that our voices are heard, too.
"... today, as we speak, there are Americans being killed in action," leaving grieving families," said the mayor. "We must remember those who are giving their lives in sacrifice."
Communities around the nation observed Veterans Day on Tuesday, marking the 90th anniversary of World War I, the "war to end all wars," and commemorating the sacrifices of America's servicemen and -women.
The city's annual parade stepped off in the chill air at 10:30 from the American Legion to a sparse but patriotic crowd waving small American flags.
The main speaker, Petty Officer 3rd Class Sherman Baldwin III, son of WUPE radio host Sherman Baldwin and his wife, Susan, said he had no doubts of his future course.
He spoke of his voyages, and of the force's role as "the front line on the war on drugs," in which one of his ships intercepted 3.4 metric tons of cocaine.
Baldwin described the thrill and fear of breaking 15-waves as a ship heads to sea, "but I can't imagine this factor is anwywhere near that felt and faced down by any of the veterans in this group. It is a great honor to be part of the North Adams Veterans Day celebration.
"I'm humbled to be sharing this day with you."
Taps played, the firing squad squeezed off the traditional three rounds and two jets screamed over the city. People wandered away to enjoy, for some of them, a day off.
Timothy Girard served in Vietnam
He and his family had come back to the city from New Jersey to visit. "It's nice in the country, North Adams has a nice ceremony," he said. "It's kind of a catharsis walking down the street in North Adams ... you feel it."
"Let us be reminded of life, liberty, justice, freedom and democracy," said American Legion Chaplain Louis Floriani. "That we be ever grateful to those comrades who gave their lives."